Just published! If you’re interested in learning about the relationship between the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, conspiracy theories, social media affordances, and algorithms, then this article is for you.
In my personal attempt to understand what was going on where I live, in Ottawa and Canada, I immersed myself in various online materials and made this map. #OttawaSiege #FreedomConvoy2022 #FreedomConvoyCanada
It was one of those moments where all ends didn’t really meet. Exhausted, she was too tired to do anything. She strolled slowly to nowhere. Her eyes were telling no stories, or perhaps, too many stories.
It wasn’t sadness. Nor sorrow. Nor pain. Nor anger. She just felt at lost. Just too many things happened. Too many things to handle. Too many uncertainties. She whispered some questions but no answer was heard.
Several weeks ago, a beautiful 11 year old girl named Josée died in a sledding accident at the hill at the Mooney’s Bay, a park where I walk regularly. This was her first winter in Ottawa. Her entire family moved from Lebanon just 6 months ago, to build a new life in Canada. The story broke my heart. “Life is so unfair,” I told J. “Life is cruel,” he replied.
The day I heard about what happened to Josée, I planned to record my part of “A Quiet Place” from TAKE 6. For most a cappella singers, singing Take 6’s song is likely an item in our bucket list. The original music of the song itself is simply beautiful. But what makes Take 6’s take extraordinary is its marvellous arrangement. To sing each part alone does not make sense, it comes with much suffering for those who overhear it. But once all voices are put together, they culminate in richly textured and exquisitely woven harmonies. Beyond that, its altered chord progressions are not only eargasmic, they also fit the message and the lyrics so wonderfully.
Typically, it’d only take about 8-10 minutes to do such a recording. But this time I struggled to find a place to sing it from. And, yet, as I started singing, I found that place. My quiet place is neither religious nor sacred. It is a place of love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness in my heart that I always go to, especially whenever my soul is crushed, and my hope crumbled. There, my faith in humanity is renewed. Life can be cruel. Thus, there’s more reason to be kind and loving to each other. To let yourself love others and be loved in return. To add sparks of hope and beauty to life, to the world.
My Edoens soulmates Fani, Rino, Bram, Ben, and Novel l thank you not only for helping me checking off my bucket list’s item and harmonising with me, but also for creating our quiet space together and emboldening me to embrace each day as a new day with love for all mankind.
Sometime last year, I wrote a series of short pandemic narratives in English. Then they were translated into Indonesian, to be recited as part of the Virtual Concert (of Indonesian community) “Senandung Merdeka”. In this 3 minutes video, I weaved these narratives into one continuous pandemic narration titled “When It Is Over”–in Indonesian with English subtitles–and illustrated it with my own one-line-drawings.
I hope you find a spark of hope in it.
Tahun lalu, saya menulis beberapa narasi pendek seputar pandemi dalam bahasa Inggris yang lalu diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Indonesia dan dibacakan dalam acara Konser Virtual “Senandung Merdeka”. Dalam video 3 menit ini, saya menjalin 3 narasi menjadi satu narasi pandemik yang berjudul “Ketika Semua ini Berlalu”–dalam Bahasa Indonesia dengan subtitles Bahasa Inggris–yang diberi ilustrasi coretan-coretan satu garis.
I walk following a particular route in my neighbourhood three times a week. Passing small streets and rows of houses. Making the same turn on the corner of a small neighbourhood park. Crossing the road at the same intersection. Walking over the same bridge and climbing the same hill. Over and over again. I have done the walk, Merlyna’s solitary walk, over a thousand times. But the walk never gets old.
I walk the same walk in all four seasons. In the spring, when little birds begin to sing, and the buds are bursting out. In the summer, with the warm sun casting on my bare shoulders and grass needles crunching under my feet. In the autumn, when the leaves are in their last line of life, and my heart leaps into a sombre mood as they wither and drop away. In the winter, when every breath I take is turned into a tiny drop of misty cloud, embraced by frigid-fingered air as cold as death.
I walk the same walk in many seasons of the heart. When love is in the air. My heart bursts with joy. A smile on my face. Butterflies in my stomach. When sorrow reigns. My heart is bleeding. My soul is crushed. Drowning in tears. My feet follow a near-identical circuitous route. But each walk is distinct. Each is always worthy. It never fails me.
But there’s nothing more solemn than a solitary walk in the snow on gentle winter days.* I simply walk on the field, looking at the vast space of emptiness. There is no one soul on sight. Treading on the snow that is as white as powdered chalk. My footprints follow me like a shadow as I walk. Trees that once had leaves are bare, stand like skeletons against the sky. The plants and shrubberies are in deep slumber, hidden under a soft snowy blanket.
At that moment, my whole universe seems composed of one thing and one thing only, the snow. I become one with its solitude and quietude.
It’s pristine, it cleanses.
It’s serene, it nourishes.
It’s tranquil. It heals.
m, Ottawa, 02.01.2022
Photos from my walks over the Mooney’s Bay Park, viewing the same bridge. Top: on the last day of 2021; Bottom: on the first day of 2022.
* *This writing is largely about a walk, my own solitary walk. It isn’t about a comfortable walk on a magnificently beautiful weather. In fact, Ottawa winter isn’t comfortable. It’s harsh, severe, and miserably long. But one finds a way to survive it. I consider the winter is gentle when it is warmer than -5 Celsius degree. My favourite is when it is just about zero.
Naskah Pidato Kebudayaan DKJ saya bisa diunduh di link tersebut.
Also, the talk itself, while delivered in Indonesian, now it has English subtitle;it’s way more rhythmical than a written version.
Kalau bisa bahasa Indonesia, menurutku sih mending dengar dulu baru baca, krn “rasa” & “ekspresi” penting, juga ritme-nya akan terasa di versi pidato lisan (bonus: ada musik + heureuy).
Though I am Indonesian, ironically, I wrote this text originally in English, then translated it into Indonesian “with a little help of my friend”, Google translator (I had to edit manually and heavily, but this friend helped a bit). Probably because I think, joke & dream in English (& ngocoblak tur heureuy ngangge basa Sunda)
Saya mendapat kehormatan dan kepercayaan untuk memberikan PIDATO KEBUDAYAAN DKJ (Dewan Kesenian Jakarta) pada tanggal: 10 November 2021, pukul 19.30WIB, di kanal youtube DKJ. Pidato ini akan tetap bisa diakses online setelah acara berakhir.